Sunday, May 29. 2005

On The Office of Antiboycott Compliance

(The following is a rant. Skip to the next entry if you don’t want to read my views on recent reading I have done about US politics.)

Did you know there are laws in the US against Boycotting countries the US doesn’t officially hate? (that’s not us by the way, we have a “special relationship” in which we do whatever the US says about using the same ID card system they’re just forcing through and everyone stays happy thanks to the clipper chips they’ve had implanted in their heads by the MPAA). There’s even a Beurocratic body that helps to regulate these silly laws. Yay! The Office Of Antiboycott Compliance. Yes, it’s a real government body – one of the most pointless I’ve managed to find yet.

What a wonderful waste of taxpayer’s money. How about we worry about things that actually matter like race, sex, age and other forms of discrimination against particular groups of people? What about a welfare state? Free public heathcare for all people, etc. No! Let’s waste money on anti-terrorism (how about a multi-billion dollar missile defence system for commercial aircraft? Get a clue dudes! There’s never been an attack of this kind, there are many other more likely situations that could occur and it’s not likely your system is going to guard against a determined whackjob with a grudge – but it’ll still cost you many billions that feeds shareholders in certain special companies who get paid to produce this stuff) and pointless government bodies like this one.

They might have half had a point in the 1970s when this office was set up. Might. I don’t think it’s a good thing to Boycott countries but I don’t think it’s necessary to legislate against it. But what the heck, the States just pulled in $600 Billion to help plug their budget problems so the federal government can rest a little easy that the lynch mob aint gonna turn up for a while. It’s not as if our government hasn’t done really stupid things lately, but I enjoy a good laugh when following the politics of certain countries I don’t live in. I like to think we’re not just as bad but the reality tends to speak for itself.

On breaking the US Constitution, one piece at a time

Robert Love made an ironic point in his recent blog entry about the teaching of the constitution: did you know that it used to be illegal for the federal government to mandate what is taught in schools? What gave this right? Oh, just a little document we know as the Constitution! (one reason for disparity in education between States – in particular, the Governator should be proud of his steps in California to funnel school funding into other areas that need propping up – and to give me something to rant about as an outsider looking in on a foreign political system). Except, it’s not illegal any more under a spending bill passed in 2004. So now it’s required to teach about the contsitution itself. Yes! The whole point of preventing the federal government from interferring has been undone by one do-gooder who didn’t think it through.

Yes, a spending bill. See, this is what’s great about US politics – they shove totally irrelevant items onto “must pass” legislation (as I’ve moaned about before). I know we do similar things here, but someone might actually care if our government tried to get away with some of the things I see passing in random bills before Congress. So now every school has to teach about the Constitution on or around (if there is a weekend or some holiday) 17 September. Wonderful! Yay! Won’t be long before some whackjob tacks on a “we must teach about terrorism”, “we must educate people about $whatever_we_don’t_like_and_got_paid_to_promote” or “we must teach about the evils of Darwin’s theories” or other crap onto the curriculum. Perhaps Bush will stick a personal lesson in there on his religious beliefs and how he thinks they are revelevant to his daily job as president of the US. He seems to think it is relevant to everything else. Great – that’ll really serve to increase my enthusiasm in the abilities of the US to handle education (George: can you spell ed-u-cation? Really? Can you? I very much doubt it).

Oh dear. It makes our whole little mess over UK education academies seem trivial in comparison. We do have a national curriculum which is mandated by the Department for Education – but it’s not usually dictated through commons bills which subjects will be taught (just that people of certain ages must be subjected to pointless targets and assessments). Every now and again I think to myself that I could run this whole system a lot better – and I’m probably right (if I belive in my own arrogance in this regard) but I wouldn’t want a job in politics as I’ve got more exciting things to do and haven’t quite got the level of arrogant vanity-cum-elitism usually required.


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